• January 20, 2021
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Experience Takes New Meaning Amid Changing Consumer Behavior

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Accenture is urging companies to swap out their customer experience (CX) focus with a much broader approach that it calls the business of experience (BX).

The firm has noted that while CX has historically been a marketing focus and based on transactions with customers, BX has become a CEO priority, as it ties back to every aspect of companies’ operations.

A large majority (77 percent) of CEOs said they will fundamentally change how their companies interact with customers as a priority to drive business growth, according to Accenture’s research.

The research also found that companies that focus their entire organization around delivering exceptional experiences for their customers, employees, and society grow their profitability year on year at rates at least six times higher than their industry peers.

“COVID has pushed experience further into the spotlight, accelerating its significance through every function and employee,” says Brian Whipple, group chief executive of Accenture Interactive. “Simply put, when you improve the experience, you improve lives and in turn, you improve business.”

Additionally, more than half of chief operating officers (56 percent), chief strategy officers (53 percent), and chief financial officers (51 percent) said their companies will fundamentally change the way they engage and interact with customers.

Becoming a business of experience requires companies to adopt the following strategies:

  • becoming customer-obsessed, investing in ways to uncover customers’ unmet needs;
  • making experience innovation an everyday habit, pivoting toward new models that deliver value and relevance to their customers;
  • expanding experience responsibility across the entire organization, with every part of the business interconnected and collaborative, functioning as one cohesive, customer-obsessed unit; and
  • synching the tech, data, and human agenda to enable agility that continuously unlocks efficiencies that can be reinvested in new opportunities for performance and growth.

“To grow in the coming year, every company and leader will need to think about experience differently, especially as nearly everything we do, from how we shop to how and where we work, to how we interact with others, has been structurally upended,” says Baiju Shah, chief strategy officer of Accenture Interactive. “An experience renaissance is afoot, and the companies that put experience at the heart of their organizations will ignite growth and be our new category of leaders into the year and decade ahead.”

A major impetus for the changing focus is the COVID-19-driven shift in consumer behaviors, which Accenture projects will have a $3 trillion economic impact.

Of that, more than $2 trillion of annual value might shift away from industries such as restaurants, traditional retail, and commercial real estate, the report found; consumer-facing industries could see a net decline of up to $687 billion, and air travel declines could cause up to $318 billion to flow to different sectors like domestic tourism, digital entertainment, and outdoor recreation.

“Fundamental changes in behavior, including heavily reduced air travel and consumer discomfort in public spaces, creates opportunity in other areas. Companies need to innovate to drive new revenue streams and look at their ecosystem partnerships to offer value-added services that cater to new ways of working and the health-conscious consumer,” says Emily Weiss, global lead of Accenture’s travel industry group.

The hospitality sector, for example, can provide hotel rooms for day rates so people can work away from home, but still in a safe space, Weiss says.

“Ripple effects of today’s changing consumer behaviors are causing waves that will reshape industries and their ecosystems. Companies must be ready with responsive business models, technology-enabled operating models that are agile, and a growth mind-set rooted in data and advanced analytics to uncover new value and better meet customer demands as this wave of change approaches their industry,” says Kathleen O’Reilly, global lead of Accenture Strategy.

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